A Portrait of Satan

Portrait of Santa WIP“A Portrait of Santa” by Donna Vermillion Giampa

Like Frankenstein’s monster, this project has been an albatross around my neck for about twelve years.* I’m not kidding — twelve years. The copyright on the pattern says “1992” and I think it was bought shortly thereafter. A friend of mine, a lover of old-fashioned Santas, bought it thinking she was going to stitch it. I “borrowed” the pattern from her and she’s never seen it since.

A friend of mine, Anna of Stitch Bitch, had a UFO once of a rooster that she was making for her mother to match, if I recall correctly, a recently redecorated kitchen. That was about ten years ago and I believe the “Frickin’ Chicken,” as it came to be known, is still unfinished. Likewise, I am dubbing this project “A Portrait of Satan.” This nickname is, of course, no reflection on the quality of the pattern itself, which is excellent.

This pattern is a perfect example of bad stitching timing. I was initially attracted to this design because of all the intricate details of Santa’s face and the holly and mistletoe. I, too, love the look of old-fashioned Santas. I’m not religious, so when Christmas season comes around (as it is relentlessly does) Santa is a traditional cultural figure I can relate to. This Santa reminds me of the Kris Kringle figures from when I was a child and we lived in Germany for a few years while my father was in the Army.Teresa Wentzler Floral Bellpull

Also, at the time I started “A Portrait of Santa,” I was really into stitching naturalistic-looking, complicated patterns with a lot of floss changes. For example, I was also stitching the Teresa Wentzler “Fruit Bellpull” at the same time (see right). I finished “Fruit Bellpull” in 1996 and it’s now hanging in the entrance to my place, but, alas, poor Santa sat in a drawer for years, forgotten except for the occasional discovery by accident and subsequent guilt trip.

My tastes changed. My patience for frequent floss changes dwindled. My love of simpler graphics and variegated floss flourished. And poor Santa languished in a drawer.

But no more! I am hereby resolving to have this project finished by Christmas 2007 to present as a gift to my poor friend who lent me the pattern those many years ago (whose birthday is today, by the way). It’s time to stitch or cut floss!

Stay tuned….

*Pardon me for mixing my Victorian metaphors, gentle readers. You’ll have to forgive me on the grounds of extreme emotional disturbance brought on by prolonged exposure to the same pattern.

A Quaker Study: 30 hours completed

A Quaker Study, 30 hours To the left, we have the latest incarnation of “A Quaker Study” by Carriage House Samplings, as stitched by yours truly. This is the sum total of my work to date, the whole piece so far, in all its Quakery glory.

Although it’s been a couple months since the end of my last ten-hour rotation (ahem! July! ahem!), I’d really like to emphasize how fast this project is to stitch. Once I started stitching on this project in earnest, I could really see the progress I was making.

This is also one of those projects that looks a lot better “in person,” so to speak, than in photographs. Or maybe it’s just my photography… Or the lighting… Yeah, that’s it–it’s the lighting! Also, for some reason, these photos have a kind of bluish tint to them, at least on my monitor. In real life, there’s no blue in this pattern at all.A Quaker Study 20-30 hours Oh, to have a professional photographer at one’s beck and call!

To the left is a photo focusing on the progress made from hours 20 to 30, basically everything below the first row of letters. If you want to see the last progress shot, taken after 20 hours of stitching, go here.

With any kind of luck, another ten hours ought to do it.

A Quaker Study: 20 hours completed

A Quaker Study, 20 hours completed
A Quaker Study, 20 hours completed

“A Quaker Study” is humming right along, due largely to the fact that many of the design elements are repeats so there’s not a lot of time spent consulting the chart every few minutes.

The stark, geometric look of this sampler is so beautiful to me, and you know I’m a sucker for anything with the alphabet on it. It also reminds me a little bit of the brown and gold calico quilts my grandmother used to make. In fact, the first quilt she ever helped me make was a wall-hanging with a large eight-pointed star on it not unlike the small repeated star motif just above and below the alphabet on this sampler. I hadn’t thought of that connection until just now. Funny.

This is the third or fourth time I’ve worked with Splendor  silks by Rainbow Gallery (colors: S1038, S1039, and S1040). I’m using the lightest brown and darkest brown for the geometric motifs and the medium (S1039) for the lettering of the alphabet. So far I give them a positive review. The strands divide easily, but not too easily, and even though silk can be notoriously fragile, these strands hold up very well in spite of the fact that I like to use relatively long lengths of floss while stitching. To me, time spent rethreading the needle is time lost.

Summer Solstice Stitchin’

I have a dream.

OK, so my dream is nowhere near as lofty and admirable, say, as a day when our children will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, but it is, as the Bard might say, mine own.

I have long been obsessed with cross stitch designs based on seasonal themes–so obsessed that I have an entire 3-inch binder filled with designs labeled “Seasons and Holidays other than Christmas” (just imagine how many binders I have devoted to Christmas!). One day, if I can ever afford a home of my own in California’s insanely overpriced real estate market, I’m going to have an entire wall devoted to seasonal and holiday-themed cross stitch designs that I rotate in as the year progresses.

If you can understand that dream, you’re my kind of crazy.

For now, I am content taking steps towards that goal by stitching the Mirabilia “In My Garden” series, beginning with “Summer in My Garden”:

Summer in my GardenMy goals are to stitch “Summer in my Garden” in summer, “Autumn in my Garden” in autumn, and so on. And, as a major geek, I’ve chosen to define the seasons according to the solstices and equinoxes. Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, so I begin today with my summer project. This plan gives me three months to complete each one–doable, I think. Yes? No? Anyone else care to join in?

Since these are (relatively) simple patterns with a lot of “white space,” I am going to do them on hand-dyed linens. Coming soon: you get to vote on what color linen I should use!

It’s a Family Affair, Part II

Well, I’ve been thinking about yesterday’s daunting list of stitching/knitting gifts yet to do. And I’ve been thinking about the agonizing gap between our lofty expectations (gifts we’d like to make if time and money were no objects) and what we can realistically achieve.

You see, I have plans for what I want to do for each of these gifts–I have samplers I’ve sketched out and would like to design, and knitting and cross stitch patterns I’ve picked out and even bought the materials for.  But these plans are in conflict with my self-imposed deadline: June 9, 2007, my brother’s wedding day.

So, should I quit my job(s) and sit around knitting and stitching all day every day until June 9th, or should I revise my goals?

Or maybe delve into my treasure trove of FUFO’s? I’m sure there’s plenty there that would do in a pinch. Or is picking something I didn’t make specifically for the purpose too impersonal?

Or maybe I should just find out where they’re registered? But that feels like giving in. Am I crazy?

It’s a Family Affair

We all know what it’s like to have family obligations. Some of them are more taxing than others, and some are actually a joy.

Or so I’ve been told. For me stitching and major family events have, until recently, always gone together like peanut butter and chocolate, or Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. The last couple years, however, I’ve fallen behind for two reasons: first, I’ve been doing so much knitting and pattern writing in my semi-professional capacity that the thought of doing more knitting in my free time can sometimes be off-putting (a little bit ironic, doncha think?); and, second, because my family keeps getting married and having babies (not to mention celebrating Christmas!) at an alarming rate. In spite of the good example I’ve set as a cat-owning, misanthropic spinster, members of my family keep insisting on pairing up and producing offspring.

Here’s the latest addition to my family–my cousin Tom, his son, Thomas, and brand-new baby Brooke:

Tom, Thomas, and Brooke

And here, from Halloween 2006, are my adorable twin cousins from the other side of the family:

Kerry and Campbell Halloween

Now, when you see results as spectacular as these, you can see why they keep marrying and having kids, but my dilemma remains: what’s a self-respecting stitcher to do when she falls behind in birth and marriage samplers, baby clothes, and even Christmas gifts?

You know what they say about the road to hell… Here’s my most up-to-date list of family stitching projects I’d like to do (in pseudo-chronological order from least to most recent):

1. wedding sampler for Sarah and Spencer

2. wedding sampler for Pat and Leslie

3. birth sampler for Hudson

4. Christmas 2005 present for Uncle John (yikes!)

5. Wedding present for Moira and Eric

6. Christmas 2006 present for Laura

7. Congratulations! You were born! gift for Wylie

8. Congratulations! You were born! gift for Brooke

9. Congratulations! You are about to be born! gift for unnamed baby brother of Hudson coming in May

10. Wedding sampler or knitted gift for brother getting married on June 9th

Phew! I’m exhausted just typing these out.